Ford Focus Active

1.5 EcoBlue

Ford Focus Active, side static
Ford Focus Active, front static 1
Ford Focus Active, front static 2
Ford Focus Active, rear static
Ford Focus Active, dashboard
Ford Focus Active, boot 2
Ford Focus Active, rear seats
Ford Focus Active, front seats
Ford Focus Active, boot 1

HOW many people ever take their 'off-roader' off road? You suspect the honest answer is hardly any of them.

No, they bought their SUV because it's go-anywhere vibe appealed and it looks cool outside school as junior is deposited for another day at the chalk face.

The downside of going for the tall, manly look is how the added weight and size hit both economy and the way the car feels on a spirited drive, when a simple hatchback would do a better job.

So say hello to the latest version of Ford's Focus, the mid-size family hatch that has always been the standout machine in its class for keener drivers.

With an added Active tag to carry, this one aims to give some of an SUV's looks but stay faithful to its admired driving heritage at the same time.

The best of both worlds, perhaps? Well, let's take a look; where you discover a car raised a modest 30mm over its non-Active siblings for a little more ground clearance.

Black makes a prominent appearance, on door mirrors, roof, alloy wheels and roof rails, offset by silver (but decorative plastic, not practical metal) skid plates front and rear. Front and rear bumpers and radiator grille look modestly different too.

Inside, it's pretty standard Focus fare, apart from finding 'Active' on the protective tread plates when you open the doors and a big 'A' as part of the trim on the seats, along with distinctive blue stitching.

On the mechanical side, along with the extra ride height come selectable drive modes for the transmission, with slippery or trail settings for driving on snowy or unmade roads.

So, it's hardly a total transformation from base Focus to something with more rugged appeal but might be better suited to the real world than a bigger, heavier and more complicated SUV whose added utility would never be needed.

And just because your Focus Active lacks the stage presence of something taller and grander doesn't mean it's without the creature comforts that come with something a notch or two above the run of the mill.

Especially if you're prepared to dip gently into the options' file, when your car can add some useful gadgetry that will ease the passing miles.

So, alongside the standard fit navigation and cruise control you can add a wide view reversing camera and parking peepers for £750. The pack also comes with - and no other car firm has copied the idea so far - clever pop out plastic door edge protectors that make car park scratches much more unlikely.

Choose your Focus Active with a diesel engine and automatic gears, both fitted to the test car, and you'll have a vehicle that demolishes main roads drives, feels confidently planted on corners and proudly displayed an encouraging 51.4mpg on its clear digital dash after more than 500 miles of mixed motoring.

FAST FACTS

Ford Focus Active 1.5 EcoBlue

Price: £24,305

Mechanical: 118bhp, 1,499cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving front wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed: 117mph

0-62mph: 10.7 seconds

Combined MPG: 52.3

Insurance Group: 14

C02 emissions: 110g/km

Bik rating: 30%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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